Julie Meitzler, Guest Blog


On May 29, the BHES staff waved as  631 Kindergarten – Fourth Grade Students left Bluffton-Harrison Elementary School for the summer. I have been sending kids off for the summer for 29 years.  I have to admit, I often tear up or even have  streams of tears running down my face when the buses pull away for that last time of the school year! I think it is such an emotional moment because over the course of the school year, we get to know our young students, their families, and we truly will miss them over the summer!

So the kids are home for the summer, now what?  Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or you work outside of the home, I wanted to share with you some great activities that are fun and educational in the summer! As my children and I spent summers together, we did a variety of activities that allowed me to spend time with them and also supported reading and math! And the beauty of it . . . they did not even realize we were learning! Below are my top ten things to do this summer to help your child continue to learn and still have fun while doing them:


  1. Community Scrapbook – Kids love to take pictures! One summer we made a community scrapbook by photographing various places in our community. We printed the pictures and created a scrapbook. Our pictures included local  parks, our church, places we liked to eat, the ball diamonds where the kids played baseball and softball, the kids’  school, where mom and dad both work, and even things such as the water tower or the mayor’s office. Be creative! Once the book is complete, your children can share with friends or family or even donate it to a local doctor’s office or possibly a realtor. We would love to have a scrapbook made and donated to our school office for visitors while they wait!
  2. Activity Jar – One summer, my kids and I brainstormed all of the things we wanted to do over the summer.  We made sure the ideas were all doable both from a budgetary perspective and a time issue. We put the ideas into a jar. Occasionally, we would pick something out of the jar and do it on that day! It was a fun change-of-pace from our normal routine and the “chance” at what we would be doing that day was always exciting.  If you are not sure what to put in your jar, check out this link: https://www.pinterest.com/sgaetano/summer-jar-activities/


  1. Service Project – Volunteer in the community or find a way for you and your children to give to others. This can be through your time or even donating your child’s artwork to a local nursing home! The residents enjoy seeing the colored pages and your children benefit by giving to others. We didn’t have the internet and sites such as pinterest when my children were young, but I am certain there are many ways you can serve others this summer: https://www.pinterest.com/penniesoftime/summer-service-ideas/


  1. Wells County Public Library Reading Program – The library has a fantastic summer reading program! Enroll yourself and your children! By modeling reading, you are showing your kids that reading is important and fun! I will be honest, I did not always want to do the program myself, but I am so happy that I did! Not only did I model reading to my kids, but I also developed a greater love of reading by spending time reading! Visit the public library and be sure to check out their website for more information! http://www.wellscolibrary.org/


  1. Bluffton Parks Department Programming – From swimming lessons to crafts, there are a variety of activities planned by the Bluffton Parks Department! This is a great opportunity to keep your children in some structured activities and have a great time learning new skills! http://www.blufftonindiana.net/parks-department/


  1. Car Activities – My children are now 26 and 22! I am not sure where the time went, but one of the things I miss most  is the time in the car with them! Use that time to sing songs, play an abc game, count, or play trivia games! Both of my kids shared more information with me in the car than any other place! They were comfortable and relaxed and would ask questions or share their thoughts and feelings much more in the car. Even today when I am riding with one of them, I find they love to talk in the car! And both would tell you that one of their favorite memories was playing an animal game with their grandparents in the car as they made adult and baby animal noises! They created memories, but also increased their vocabulary through interacting with others. Check out these great car games: http://www.parents.com/fun/vacation/ideas/8-fun-car-game-ideas/


  1. Board Games – On a rainy day, get out the Candyland, Sorry, Scrabble, or other board game! Kids also love to play Uno, Phase 10, Chess, and Checkers! There are many educational reasons to play Board Games from taking turns to math skills! Check out this list: http://geekdad.com/2014/01/play-games-kids/


  1. Family Notes – Use the summer months as a chance for children to write friendly letters to grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles! If they have a birthday, a simple thank you note  teaches the value of saying thank you while practicing their writing skills.  Check out this website which has information about writing a friendly letter, but is also good for other skill review: http://www.abcya.com/friendly_letter_maker.htm


  1. Cooking Fun – Let your child help out in the kitchen! Start simple with Kool-aid or Jello. The following website has easy-to-follow recipes for cooking with kids! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/recipes-for-kids/cooking-with-kids.html


  1. Have fun! Every day does not have to be an event! Your child simply wants to spend time with you! Enjoy and when  August 10 rolls around, we will be so excited to have our students back at BHES! I cannot wait to hear all of their summertime stories!